The CSUSB Student Health Center is an integral part of Cal State San Bernardino. Campus health centers, in general, are a necessary part of the CSU system. Student fees are also a necessary part. For the 2018-2019 school year, each CSUSB student was charged $86.93 dollars for each quarter that they were enrolled. 19 percent of the student population used Health Center services this year.
“Especially with school, sometimes health tends to be the last priority,” Health Educator Melissa Acuna said. “Taking care of your health now and learning the foundations really carries on into adult life.”
For all the services that the Health Center does cover, there are some that are missing. If you have an emergency, hang up and dial 911, their phone system warns. If you can’t go visit an emergency room or stay at a hospital with it, it doesn’t count as health insurance. The student health plan covers many of the minimum essential coverage areas that the Affordable Care Act mandates but misses some big ones. It’s not a place where you can stay overnight.
Still, records show that this is what students need.
“A lot of students that we survey, they don’t have access to insurance,” Acuna said. “They’re first-generation, they’re low-income. Sometimes they don’t even have a car to get to appointments so I think just providing this on-campus resource for students (is important).”
Many students have other options for their health, other insurance for their medical needs.
The University of California system does it differently. There, students must buy full—coverage health insurance to attend college. Those without cannot be students. Under the UC plan, called SHIP, the $260.79 that CSUSB students pay annually becomes $1,297 dollars for a student there.
“SHIP refers to any Student Health Insurance Plan,” UCR’s Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan Officer Jasmine Jafari said. “UC SHIP has been around quite a while and is a self-funded collective effort across the majority of the UC campuses, grad, and undergrad, in order to provide the best medical care possible for our students and dependents.”
The CSUs have a different idea.
“We don’t require (health insurance),” Health Center Director Grace Johnson said. “And the reason we don’t is we feel that for some students, that would be a barrier to education and we want to be inclusive and have as many students as possible pursue a degree that they want.”
CSU health insurance might be mandated in the future, but for now, accessibility is the priority.
There’s a lot to health besides the emergency room. The CSUSB health center helps students in a variety of ways, coordinating with a variety of other campus organizations. There are Fit Bit challenges. There are exercise consultations with seniors in the kinesiology department. There are Love Labs and nutrition consultations. There are interfaith meetings and May 13-15 is Sex Week. There is a reason for the large number of options.
“Our students are very diverse,” Johnson said. “We want to make sure that the services are diverse so that everybody finds something that would be helpful to them.”
The pharmacy, in particular, seems a fantastic and underutilized resource. Working with the state, the health center is able to purchase a variety of medications at cheaper prices than any private pharmacy. A $5-dollar bottle of amoxicillin costs $12 dollars at the Rite Aid on Kendall. The most popular purchase, Plan B, costs $50 dollars retail and $20 dollars at the Health Center.
“We try to keep it as cheap as possible,” Acuna said.
Still, cheapness is not the only concern.
“We need a credit and debit machine,” Acuna said. “That’s one of the biggest complaints. (Students) have to pay in cash or check which is totally inconvenient.”
Even this is being solved. Plans are in process and sick students will no longer be asked to visit the ATM in the student union.
There are a lot of options for students looking for health help. There are often Health Center information tables on display complete with Let’s Taco Bout Sex buttons and a wheel to spin and knowledgable students with answers. There is an up-to-date website to visit and there is a phone number to call, but not for emergencies.
Lead Peer Health Educator Rosamaria Lopez summed it up well.
“I wish students would take advantage of what they are paying for,” she said. “The resources are available.”